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  • Published: Feb 19th, 2012
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Cricket, Lovely Cricket

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All over the globe, there are aspects of life that can make noticeable contributions to the very identity of a particular location, and in England it’s the game of cricket. The sport is popular in various pockets of the world such as Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent, but in many countries it’s rarely played and sometimes barely even understood. But if you have never really seen what the appeal of it is, perhaps it’s time to try a little harder.

Cricket has been around for centuries, and it’s a huge contrast of a sport. It can be slow-paced and cerebral, yet it can also be wildly exciting and abandoned. On some occasions it rewards patience, yet on others it requires throwing caution to the wind. It has always been thought of as a gentleman’s game, but it produces occasional bouts of ill-temper and gamesmanship that will hit the headlines all over the world.

The rewards in the professional game are plentiful if you get to the top of the tree, but no-one has ever played the game just for the money. Fast bowlers from Pakistan, all-rounders from West Indies and opening batsmen from New Zealand will all tell you it’s the love of the sport that drives them on, not the promise of a hefty pay packet when the game has finished. It’s truly a purist’s pursuit, and that’s why so many people enjoy it.

To be in England when the sun shines

In England, the love affair with cricket goes right back to the birth of the game, and many legends of the sport have become household names over those years. From WG Grace and Jack Hobbs to Ian Botham and Kevin Pietersen, the game has always created superstars, yet it remains a true grass roots phenomenon, and a drive through the nation’s rural backwaters is enough to convince you of its importance.

From Cornwall in the south-west to Northumberland in the north-east, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of village cricket clubs which play throughout the summer. Organised matches have been around for hundreds of years, and wherever you are in England on a weekend in July, the chances are you won’t be far away from a local game, so why not stroll over and take a look at what’s going on?

At one time, cricket was the preserve of the very wealthy, but that all changed many moons ago. These days, a village side is likely to feature accountants and gentleman farmers playing alongside bricklayers and electricians, all brought together by the love of this intriguing sport. Next time you visit England, be sure to head for a cricket match and see why this passionate affair continues.

David Rice is a UK writer and a keen fan of cricket. He often attends matches at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Car hire in the area is affordable, and so is hotel accommodation.

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  • Published: Apr 27th, 2011
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Top 5 Travel Destinations for Extreme Sports Enthusiasts

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A scuba diver looking at a giant clam on the G...

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Top 5 Travel Destinations for Extreme Sports Enthusiasts

Whether you are a scuba-diver, sky-diver, mountain climber, bungee-jumper or white water rafter, one thing is certain: these are extreme sports that only a select few are comfortable participating in.  Chances are, you love more than one of these sports and do them every chance you get. Here are some top travel destinations for the extreme sports enthusiast.

1)      Hawaii: This is one of the most beautiful places on earth, with clear-blue beaches and an abundance of marine life. You will find many opportunities such as scuba-diving, snorkelling, sky-diving and bungee-jumping. Whether you want to jump out of a plane to see the beautiful islands and scenery, or dive down 200 feet to see ship wrecks and corals, this spot is heaven on earth.

2)      Ottawa/Quebec: Ottawa provides one of the best white-water rafting experiences in North America; if you’re into sky-diving you can go to the Ottawa/Gatineau airport in Quebec. You will see breathtaking scenery, as well as the St. Lawrence River. This is definitely an extreme sportsman’s dream come true.

3)      Australia and the Great Barrier Reef: This famous reef is a picturesque sight of beauty. Snorkel or scuba dive to see the amazing marine life: sting rays, giant sea turtles, sharks and a colourful array of fish await you here. Don’t forget your underwater camera.

4)      Niagara Falls: Since you can’t go over the Falls in a barrel (it’s illegal), the sports enthusiast will have to settle for white-water rafting, or skydiving over this natural wonder. An amazing, thrilling adventure you won’t soon forget.

5)      Mount Kilimanjaro: Located in Tanzania, this famous sight is the mountain climber’s dream, and is conquered by thousands of people each year. Go on your own or with a tour guide; this will give you long lasting memories you won’t ever forget.

There are, of course, hundreds of other places throughout the world to practice your skills and see breathtaking views and sights. Keep in mind that some of the most popular are also some of the most crowded. You will have to decide where to go based on your own preference and budget. Create a top 10 list, and make some goals to visit at least three or four of them in the next five years. Don’t put anything off; you may regret it later. Visit your local travel agent, or do some research online for guided tours or packages. A word of caution about buying online: make sure you are purchasing from a reputable company, and that any tickets you purchase are in fact valid.

You should also be sure you have a life insurance policy in place before you venture onto your next destination. No one likes to think about their mortality, but the fact is the possibility of tragedy exists. Most athletes that enjoy extreme sports understands risk versus reward so I won’t lecture anybody here but being safe should be your number one priority.

 

Johnny Guyzer is a long time extreme sports enthusiast and although he enjoys the adrenaline rush, he understands that he needs to take care of his family first. That is the reason he buys Alberta life insurance if he plans on skiing in that province and buys Saskatchewan life insurance when he rides dirt bikes out in the Prairies.

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  • Published: Apr 21st, 2011
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Bushcraft experiences in and around the Peak District

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Panorama of the Peak District

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For adventure lovers and outdoor types, the Peak District Derbyshire area is a great place to experience bushcraft. With stunning scenery, dense woodlands, miles of trails and pathways, rivers to cross, and hills to climb, there are ample opportunities to hone your survival skills. An organized course is the best (and legal) way to enjoy wildcamping and bushcraft.

Bushcraft courses usually take place over a weekend, so those wanting a true Peak District experience could choose to make a holiday of it, and stay in one of many stunning Peak District cottages in the area.

Bushcraft is essentially survival skills, living in the natural environment, and using your surroundings to thrive. Used for centuries in Australia and South Africa, bushcraft has gained recent popularity in the UK with Ray Mears’ television series. Wildcamping is technically illegal in England, so bushcraft, camping and survival courses are great ways to experience the outdoors without the trappings of a conventional campsite.

There are now plenty of places to enjoy bushcraft experiences in the Peak District area. Organized outdoor adventures, led by qualified guides and instructors can be incredible learning experiences for the whole family. A weekend experience is a great way to begin your bushcraft adventure – learning basic survival skills such as: shelter building, tracking, firecraft, fishing and foraging. For die-hard adventure lovers, why not combine your bushcraft experience with some of the Peak District’s many extreme sports, such as rafting, mountain biking, climbing and abseiling!

Bushcraft weekends are perfect for the outdoor loving family, a corporate team building experience, or maybe an alternative hen or stag weekend. Head to Moorlands Bushcraft for weekend experiences on the edge of the Peak District, or to Shipley Country Park for bushcraft taster experiences. Also try Woodland Ways experiences, for a huge choice of bushcraft days, weekends and even week-long courses.

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  • Published: Apr 13th, 2011
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What makes the Masters so Unique?

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The British professional golfer Nick Faldo.

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I was in my local watering hole the other day for a pleasant Friday afternoon pub dinner, only to find a golf tournament being shown on the big screen slightly surreal but none the less enjoyable. It seems that every time the PGA or European tour come through, not too much attention is paid to these relatively high stakes competition but when the Masters comes along even the most passive of a Golf enthusiast are truly engrossed in the four day tournament this year held in Augusta.

As I found myself enthralled by the amazing shots and the drama of the game at hand it caught me unaware that an hour had passed and I hadn’t taken my eyes off the screen, watching each and every lusciously carved shot by Schwartzel.

Obviously it is a Major Tournament and the golfer is judged on how many Majors they win over the course of their career, but there always seems to be an extra feeling of urgency when it comes to each player’s shot. On paper it is just another major and the money would pale in significance to what I feel is the major factor that inspires the pressure and excitement.

The competition itself is steeped in tradition and has many different awards for the players that happen to perform exceptional feats during the tournament. The main privilege of winning the Masters is that you are presented with the hallowed Green Jacket, the symbol of Golfing stardom.

As a casual golfer and a “part-time” of golf tables, the controversy surrounding some well known wild cat named golfers and the fresh faces of the European golfers has stimulated a world wide interest in the game and long may it continue.

Europeans such as Lee Weswood and Rory McIlroy have gone a long way to stimulating the interest in the sport, with McIlroy leading the standings after the first day it was thought that a European might find himself wearing the green jacket, being the first European to win the tournament for 15 years, since Nick Faldo won his third Masters Title since 1996. This would have gone a long way to re-igniting the spark for European golfers but like all competitions talent needs to be weighed in relation to keeping a calm head and the tournament favorite McIlroy failed to capitalize on his leading position and dropped to seventh at the closing of the competition, instead handing the competition to South African Charl Schwartzel after some stunning shots on the final day, including a 20 foot sink on the last hole to finish the day six under par.

Overall the competition this year was an exciting spectacle of grit and determination and as golf tournaments go, one of the best in recent years with its fair share of ups, downs, birdies and the odd eagle.

Andy is more enthused with the technology in place on the golf course and works on behalf of a golf trolley battery shop selling a variety of golf batteries and other leisure batteries. Follow him on Twitter @andym23.

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